Electronic border crossing starts today

As of today, holders of an EU passport will be able to cross the border independently at Schiphol in an electronic manner. Travellers will cross the border by scanning their travel document at an electronic gate at the border. This manner of crossing is an alternative to offering the travel document to an officer of the Royal Military Constabulary (Kmar). Minister of Justice Hirsch Ballin and Jos Nijhuis, President-director Schiphol Group, will today start the 'No-Q' pilot by being the first citizens to cross the border in this manner. In future, electronic border crossing will make it possible to let much larger numbers of passengers cross the border in a fast and safe manner, because it is possible to significantly increase the number of gates.

All passports that have been issued since 28 August 2006 in the Netherlands have been provided with a chip with biometric characteristics, such as facial features. The new gates read this information from the travel document. A photo of the person in the gate is made at the same time. The data contained in the passport is subsequently compared with the photo that was just made. This will make it possible to establish with absolute certainty that it is indeed the person who is crossing the border whose travel document has been read. Similarly to the current activities of the officer of the Kmar, the personal data are checked for outstanding fines, prison sentences or international alerts. In addition to holders of EU passports, [electronic] border crossing will also become possible for citizens of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Holders of travel documents without this chip will not be able to make use of electronic border crossing.

The pilot will run until 30 June 2010 and consists for now of two types of gates. After evaluation of the pilot, a decision will be made as regards the specifications the definitive gate will have to satisfy and which gate is most comfortable to use for travellers. It will be assessed, on the basis of the outcome of the pilot, whether the gates can be introduced on a large scale in 2011.

The No-Q pilot is part of the Border Management Renewal Programme of the Ministry of Justice. The aim of this Programme is to strike a sound balance between the control and security interest, on the one hand, and the economic interest of the Netherlands in a fast and client-oriented handling of the flows of persons and goods, on the other hand.